January 20, 2000
ago there was a bitter war between the kingdoms of Scythia
and Bohemia. It began when the Scythian king, Lobo the Bold, claimed
by ancient right some lands on the Bohemian seacoast, which he
invaded, slaughtering the Bohemians who had lived there peacefully
for many generations.
The Bohemian king, Clement the
Just, raised a great army and defeated Scythia, not only reclaiming
the disputed lands but at last killing all the Scythian warriors,
including Lobo himself.
returning home, reported that they had found that the barbarous
Scythians had practiced cannibalism, eating the bodies of some of
the gentle Bohemians they had killed on the seacoast. In time this
story grew worse and worse, until the Bohemians believed that the
Scythians had eaten more than a million of their countrymen. Lobo
himself, it was said, had eaten 50 Bohemians at one sitting!
Musidorus, a philosopher, spoke to
the Bohemian senate: These stories are impossible. No more
than 80,000 Bohemians lived on the seacoast; and though Lobo was
undoubtedly a savage, even the cruelest and most ravenous cannibal
could not eat 50 men in a year, much less a single meal.
At this the senators were
exceedingly angry. Musidorus has insulted our dead!
they cried. He defends Lobo and his cannibals! He is spewing
hate against Bohemia! He is a traitor!
Not so, said
Musidorus. I do not deny that Lobo committed great evil; I
only doubt that he performed miracles.
The senate was not assuaged. Some
said that Musidorus was subversive of Bohemian patriotism; others
demanded his death for treason. He was fortunate to leave the senate
unharmed, though with a stern warning against propagating his
Soon it was rumored among the
common people that Musidorus had favored the Scythians during the
war and mocked the memory of the Bohemians who had been
devoured. Many said he denied that cannibalism had occurred at all;
others held that he actually applauded it. Some held both opinions at
Finally King Clement himself
summoned Musidorus. I am sorry to hear these reports of you,
Musidorus, he said, for I have always esteemed you as
a wise philosopher and a loyal Bohemian. Musidorus replied
modestly that whether or not he deserved to be called wise, he was
indeed a loyal Bohemian, but merely questioned whether Lobo and the
Scythians could have performed such prodigious feats of cannibalism
as they were accused of.
But all in vain. Your
words, the king said, can only comfort our enemies
and call in question the justice of our heroic war. Our brave soldiers
have not shed their blood in the struggle against cannibalism so that
idle philosophers, sitting safely at home, could mock their sacrifice,
spew hate against their country, praise Lobo, and encourage men to
eat each other as the Scythians do. He banished Musidorus
from the kingdom.
By royal command, the Bohemian
chroniclers were to speak no good of Musidorus in their annals. His
books were destroyed, his disciples dispersed, his house razed to the
ground. He died in exile, protesting to the end that he abhorred
cannibalism and loved Bohemia.
In time Musidoruss
reputation became even more odious. It was said of him that he
approved of cannibalism and had been secretly in the pay of the
Scythians. Some even said that he was a cannibal himself. His
memory was reviled, and nobody dared to take his part. The official
chroniclers wrote that under the guise of teaching philosophy he had
craftily tried to introduce cannibalism among the Bohemians.
Succeeding generations recalled him as Musidorus the Cannibal.
From then on Bohemian
philosophers, in order to teach at the National Academy, were
required to curse the names of Lobo and Musidorus, and to take a
solemn oath that they would never preach the detested doctrine of
cannibalism. Yet the common people continued to suspect that
philosophy inclined mens minds to secret sympathy with
Centuries later, Bohemian scholars
discovered copies of Musidoruss books that had escaped
destruction. They were puzzled to find that these books neither
preached cannibalism nor indeed made any mention of it. They
concluded that Musidorus had been afraid to set down his true
opinions in writing.
Thus was Bohemia, by ceaseless
vigilance, spared the scourge of cannibalism for all time.
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